Last week the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) launched their Annual Summer Move Series in which they play a line up of beloved films at the Ohio Theatre over the course of the summer. They are showing true classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone with the Wind, as well as more modern cult favorites such as Fight Club. I was pleased to see a strong list of musical movies among CAPA’s list, such as West Side Story, Funny Girl, The Sound of Music, and The Wizard of Oz. I love that these movies have continued to capture the attention of audiences in all age groups. Even the technology-driven kids of today know the words to “Do Re Mi,” and enjoy these movies despite their lack of CGI.
However, popular opinion dictates that none of these movies would survive today, but I beg to differ. Looking at pop culture over the past 50 years, musicals (and more specifically dance) have certainly evolved. Yet they continue to be loved. West Side Story stands out as a revolutionary movie in terms of bringing stylized dance into the mainstream in the 60’s. Then John Travolta single handedly made it cool to be a male dancer in the 70’s. There was an obvious spike of interest in dance in the 80’s with Footloose and Dirty Dancing. Even the 90’s had everyone moving with the “Macarena” and those catchy boy band dance moves. In the new millennium, the lines have blurred between musicals, movies, dance, and radio music. People are searching for a perfect hybrid of all these elements; a musical version of their favorite movie written by a top 40 artist and performed by the casts of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.
I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. The performing arts are always evolving but they are always loved. Today, technology is dictating how we are exposed to art, but true talent still reigns. We can digitally alter Natalie Portman’s body into the most perfect arabesque, and auto-tune the kids of Glee, but it’s never quite as impressive as knowing that someone can actually do those things live without the assistance of technology. Look at how many videos there are on YouTube of one person sitting in front of their computer playing guitar or premiering their original choreography or executing 27 consecutive pirouettes. People want to see talent, and it is clear that that will never change.
What’s your stance on this matter? Has there been a dance movie in recent years that really moved you with its talent, or one that disappointed you with its lack there of?